Prime Minister Narendra Modi used the launch of the party's election campaign to launch a fierce attack on his critics, challenging them to "lay bare" before the country if any of his policies discriminated between people. "Stand up and respect parliament, respect the government elected by the people," he exhorted them from Delhi's Ramlila Maidan, about a kilometre away from Daryaganj in the old quarter of Delhi that was hit by violence on Friday during the protests against the amended Citizenship Act.
At the outset of his address - meant to launch the party's election campaign - the Prime Minister set the tone with a new slogan. "Unity in diversity is India's specialty," he said amid nationwide protests against the new citizenship law that was cleared by parliament next week.
This is PM Modi's first election rally in Delhi since he won a massive mandate for a second term in national elections earlier this year. The BJP is eyeing a comeback in the national capital after two decades. The Delhi state election -- likely to be held early next year -- will be the first major electoral test for the BJP in the wake of the mass demonstrations seen after parliament cleared the Citizenship Amendment Act on December 11.
The Citizenship (Amendment) Act for the first time makes religion the test of citizenship in India. The government says it will help minorities from three Muslim-dominated countries - Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan - to get citizenship if they fled to India before 2015 because of religious persecution. Critics say it is designed to discriminate against Muslims and violates the secular principles of the constitution.
The BJP plans to connect with three crore families over the next 10 days in an outreach effort. This will include several hundred rallies and more than 250 press conferences to clear "misconceptions" about the Citizenship (Amendment) Act or CAA.
Here are the highlights of PM Modi's Ramlila Maidan Rally, Delhi:
- Former PM Manmohan Singh said in the Parliament that we should provide citizenship to the refugees coming from Bangladesh who have been religiously persecuted.
- Assam's former CM and senior Congress leader Tarun Gogoi had written letters to the PM to provide help for religiously persecuted minorities from Bangladesh.
- The Chief Minister of Rajasthan, Ashok Gehlot, too had supported citizenship for these refugees. He had even asked the Central Govt for providing better facilities to the Hindus and Sikhs that have come from Pakistan.
- They turned overnight. All the love and sensibility blew out of thin air. The votes were in danger and thus, these political leaders had to change their tune.
Infiltrators never come in light. They never ask for help from the police, never give interviews and just hide. They live via corrupt means through agents.- BJP (@BJP4India) December 22, 2019
Refugees never hide their identities and infiltrators never reveal themselves: PM Modi #DilliChaleModiKeSaath
- I request the youth of the country to read the Act in detail and not to fall prey to the rumors of detention-centers being spread by Urban Naxals and Congress. It's a lie and is dividing the nation.
- The Muslims of India don't need to worry at all. The CAB and the NRC will not apply to the Muslims of the country. It's a white lie.
- It is shocking to see the kind of lies that are being spread. Some people are even saying that the CAB is against the poor people of the country.
- The world's largest healthcare scheme is currently prevalent in India. It is helping over 50 crore poor people of India with free treatment worth Rs 5 lakh. For political interests, the Delhi Govt hasn't implemented the Ayushman Bharat scheme.
- The Govt has strived to reach every poor's house and help them via Ujjwala, Awas Yojana and free electricity schemes. We never asked for anyone's religion. Why are we being questioned then?
- The Citizenship Amendment Bill was passed for the brighter future of the marginalised.
- (To the crowd) You stand up and respect the Parliament
- Support them with full strength
- Ramlila ground has been witness to historic occasions.
- You all have benefited through PM Modi awas yojna